Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Aaron Sorkin To The Rescue


Never fear, helpless women of America. Swashbuckling feminist icon Aaron Sorkin is here to save you from the evil clutches of Donald Trump

In a masterful piece of virtue signalling, well befitting somebody who made his name and career writing for television and Hollywood, Aaron Sorkin (creator of The West Wing, The Newsroom and Facebook movie The Social Network) has written an open letter to his wife and daughter – less for their own benefit, of course, and more to show off his impeccably progressive, anti-Trump credentials to the world.

Unfortunately, Sorkin appears not to have dedicated the same time to this sanctimonious little letter as he would have given to the script for a good episode of The West Wing, and his clumsy attempt at virtue-signalling reveals his Hollywood liberal cynicism in all its ugly glory.

Aaron Sorkin writes (my emphasis in bold):

Sorkin Girls,

Well the world changed late last night in a way I couldn’t protect us from. That’s a terrible feeling for a father. I won’t sugarcoat it—this is truly horrible. It’s hardly the first time my candidate didn’t win (in fact it’s the sixth time) but it is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has.

And it wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night—it was his supporters too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate. Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic shitheads everywhere. Hate was given hope. Abject dumbness was glamorized as being “the fresh voice of an outsider” who’s going to “shake things up.” (Did anyone bother to ask how? Is he going to re-arrange the chairs in the Roosevelt Room?) For the next four years, the President of the United States, the same office held by Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., J.F.K. and Barack Obama, will be held by a man-boy who’ll spend his hours exacting Twitter vengeance against all who criticize him (and those numbers will be legion). We’ve embarrassed ourselves in front of our children and the world.

Oh I’m sorry, I thought that we were supposed to have moved past dated and oppressive gender stereotypes, like the idea that the Big Strong Man is supposed to defend the helpless women in his life from Bad Things? Yet Aaron Sorkin seems to believe that it was his duty as a man to protect and defend his wife and daughter from the outcome of a presidential election in which his wife was also able to take full part, as though neither woman had any agency of their own.

And “Sorkin girls” – really?

But then we should not be surprised by any of this. This is a man whose television shows (The West Wing is one of my all time favourites, and doubtless will now be so again for many a dejected Democrat in the Age of Trump) have long been renowned for their continual mockery, downplaying and diminution of women.

Besides Abigail Bartlet, Nancy McNally or Amy Gardner (and even she is doubtful sometimes), name a strong female character in The West Wing. Seriously, I’m waiting. The female characters with the most airtime, like Donna Moss or Ainsley Hayes, are little more than comic relief, particularly in the early seasons before Sorkin got booted off his own show.

The same goes for Sorkin’s more recent show, The Newsroom, but to an even greater degree. Every female character save Leona Lansing (played by Jane Fonda), no matter how senior they happen to be, is portrayed as a bumbling, gaffe-prone fool, flapping around helplessly as the men in their lives chuckle and give wry smiles at their foolish antics. But sure, Donald Trump is the man with an unprecedentedly unenlightened view towards women.

Oh, and let’s not forget that great America-bashing monologue which Aaron Sorkin wrote to open The Newsroom, in which he has lead character Will McAvoy say:

We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered.

My emphasis in bold.

America was great when we all acted like MEN. America used to be informed by great MEN. And no, I’m not quoting selectively. The balancing paragraph lauding the achievements of great American women never comes, because Sorkin probably didn’t give a moment’s thought to the accomplishments of women when he wrote the scene. And yet now he is a brave, anti-Trump feminist who despises the new president-elect’s unreconstructed view toward the fairer sex while displaying many of those same condescensions himself, albeit in slightly less vulgar form.

But surely Sorkin is on safe ground when he adversely compares Donald Trump to previous American presidents, all of whom had supremely progressive and enlightened attitudes towards women and were paragons of virtue. Presidents like John F. Kenne — oh, wait. At least Sorkin is smart enough not to mention Bill Clinton.

Sorkin continues with some good old homespun, patriarchal, husbandly / fatherly advice:

So what do we do?

First of all, we remember that we’re not alone. A hundred million people in America and a billion more around the world feel exactly the same way we do.

Second, we get out of bed. The Trumpsters want to see people like us (Jewish, “coastal elites,” educated, socially progressive, Hollywood…) sobbing and wailing and talking about moving to Canada. I won’t give them that and neither will you. Here’s what we’ll do…

Because there’s nothing more mature than throwing baseless charges of anti-Semitism at the nearly half of voting Americans who chose Donald Trump. And because I’m sure Aaron Sorkin would be happy to be associated with the craziest and most unpleasant fan of his own fans, just as he seems happy to slander Trump and his many supporters with their most disreputable endorsements.


…we’ll fucking fight. (Roxy, there’s a time for this kind of language and it’s now.) We’re not powerless and we’re not voiceless. We don’t have majorities in the House or Senate but we do have representatives there. It’s also good to remember that most members of Trump’s own party feel exactly the same way about him that we do. We make sure that the people we sent to Washington—including Kamala Harris—take our strength with them and never take a day off.

We get involved. We do what we can to fight injustice anywhere we see it—whether it’s writing a check or rolling up our sleeves. Our family is fairly insulated from the effects of a Trump presidency so we fight for the families that aren’t. We fight for a woman to keep her right to choose. We fight for the First Amendment and we fight mostly for equality—not for a guarantee of equal outcomes but for equal opportunities. We stand up.

My oh my, this is starting to get awfully problematic. Isn’t it a bit, um, like, oppressive and gender stereotypical for a white male like Aaron Sorkin to presume to give the women in his life permission to use bad language, as he seems to do in his letter?


Roxy, I know my predictions have let you down in the past, but personally, I don’t think this guy can make it a year without committing an impeachable crime. If he does manage to be a douche nozzle without breaking the law for four years, we’ll make it through those four years. And three years from now we’ll fight like hell for our candidate and we’ll win and they’ll lose and this time they’ll lose for good. Honey, it’ll be your first vote.

The battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. Grandpa fought in World War II and when he came home this country handed him an opportunity to make a great life for his family. I will not hand his granddaughter a country shaped by hateful and stupid men. Your tears last night woke me up, and I’ll never go to sleep on you again.



Seriously, Aaron, you fell asleep on your daughter as she was crying in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory? Do you not care about making your house a safe space for marginalised and oppressed groups like the women in your life? Did a privileged white male like yourself really shun his duty to create a “place of comfort and home” for those who suffer oppression, or who will surely do so under Donald Trump’s tyrannical reign?

Everyone knows that when good Social Justice Warriors see oppression taking place they fight tirelessly to shame it on Twitter – they don’t fall asleep in front of the TV with the remote control resting on their belly. What kind of person are you?

There’s nothing else for it, I’m afraid. I hereby call a universal boycott of every single Aaron Sorkin television show or movie ever made in the past, as well as all of those yet to be made in the future, until he writes a new open letter to his wife and daughter. In this letter, Sorkin should apologise to them (and to the American people) for his outsized role in furthering the interests of the patriarchy through his work, pledge to immediately attend an Avoiding Common Microaggressions re-education camp for people of privilege, tithe at least 50 percent of his future income to EMILY’s List and promise henceforce to only produce work which conforms with the catechism of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics.*

* To be judged by an artistic censorship committee comprising Jerelyn Luther, Bonita Tindle, Jonathan Butler, Fran “Holier than Peter Tatchell” Cowling and other prominent SJWs.

If Aaron Sorkin does all of this and manages to single-handedly bring down the Trump presidency then he may – just may – be able to atone for the harm done to women and girls everywhere by his oppressive, patriarchal letter.

But until then, you are on notice, Mr. Male Hero Feminist Champion Man. Nobody is buying your schtick.



Top Image: Ondra Soukup / Wikimedia Commons

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On Owen Smith

Owen Smith is the worst person in British politics

I have been struggling to put my finger on exactly why it is that I loathe Owen Smith with such a visceral, burning, contemptuous rage. It’s neither healthy nor seemly – to the extent that I have nearly hit “send” on a few truly nasty social media comments which I would never normally make before finally regaining my composure and putting the iPhone safely out of reach.

It’s as though someone carefully and methodically packaged absolutely everything that I hate about modern politics into the greasy, grinning form of one man and paraded him on the television news every day to raise my blood pressure.

There’s the oleaginous, media trained (but not sufficiently that it looks convincingly natural and authentic) television persona.

There’s the craven cowardice of pretending he is every bit as old-school socialist as Jeremy Corbyn in a pitiful attempt to peel off Corbyn’s voters when we all know that he is the Parliamentary Labour Party’s centrist mole.

There’s the sanctimonious waffle about Saving Our Blessed NHS (genuflect) from privatisation, admittedly hardly unique to Owen Smith but particularly eyebrow-raising coming from the mouth of somebody with his past career and political track record.

There’s the deliberately old-school typeface and stylistic theme employed by his campaign (see picture at the end, or his pitiful website), designed to evoke thoughts of 1970s and 1980s Labour when his campaign is the living embodiment of the PLP’s mission to suppress Corbyn’s throwback movement.

And then there’s Brexit. Oh yes, and then there is Owen Smith’s incessant, petulant whining about Britain’s decision to leave the EU, his channelling of the metro-left’s howl of anguish at the thought of being separated from their beloved European Union and his declared intention to nullify the public’s vote using any means at his disposal.

But on this occasion, Dan Hodges actually says it best, excoriating Owen Smith for his lacklustre campaign, broken political radar and sheer amateurish incompetence:

It took precisely 24 hours for Smith’s clean skin to be scarred by the stigmata of Blairism. He had worked as a consultant for ‘Big Pharma’. He had welcomed private sector involvement in the NHS. He had guardedly backed the Iraq War.

His skill as a media performer was demonstrated on Wednesday, when he tried to boast of his pivotal role in the Northern Ireland peace process. When this John Terry-style glory-hunting fell flat, he tried to further embellish his credentials in international conflict resolution by announcing he would happily sit down for talks with Islamic State.

Whereas most Labour politicians content themselves with waving the red flag, Smith opted to wave a black one. An hour later Corbyn’s camp issued a statement distancing themselves from his stance, leaving Smith the only person in British political history to be outflanked by Jeremy Corbyn on the issue of national security.

Questioned about the ongoing bullying and intimidation of Labour members who do not support Corbyn, Smith the dogged street-fighter pleaded: ‘I am not a Blairite, I am a socialist just the same as you. I have never been a Blairite.’

That last exchange perfectly encapsulates Smith’s strategy. His message has essentially been: ‘I am just like Jeremy Corbyn. I believe in the same things as Jeremy Corbyn. Ditch Jeremy Corbyn.’

Amazingly, this ‘Dump Corbyn, Get Corbyn’ line isn’t resonating with the Corbynite true believers. For the simple reason that while many of them are stark-staring mad, they aren’t stupid. This is how Smith thought he could secure the Labour leadership. ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are very Left-wing,’ he told himself, ‘and I need them to vote for me. So I’ll pretend to be very Left-wing too. That’ll fool them. Then I can start dragging Labour back to the centre-ground, which is where it has to be if I’m going to get to be Prime Minister.’

As a master-plan for wooing Corbyn’s supporters into his warm and pragmatic arms, it was utterly brilliant. Except it had one fatal flaw: It was so childishly transparent and craven, every Corbyn supporter in the land knew it was his master-plan.

A weak plan from a weak and utterly forgettable man. In a decade’s time, nobody will remember who Owen Smith is. He will have returned to some anonymous career as a lobbyist or PR man, and will have a footnote in history as somebody who once caused minor irritation to Jeremy Corbyn for a few months.

The Parliamentary Labour Party could of course have put forward someone with more gravitas and prime ministerial potential, but they didn’t. To a man and woman, they prized their own political careers over the opportunity to lead Labour to likely defeat in 2020. In many ways, Owen Smith is the collective cowardice of Labour’s remaining big beasts, given human form and a uniquely irritating grin.

And Hodges is absolutely right – the bait and switch move that Owen Smith is trying to pull would be obvious to a ten-year-old. The 1970s font and protestations that he agrees with Corbyn on policy isn’t fooling anyone. He is treating Labour Party members with open contempt by even asking them to swallow his ruse, and I have no doubt that he will catastrophically underperform even the rock-bottom expectations of the Westminster political class when the results of the Labour leadership contest are announced.

Ultimately, my problem with Owen Smith is this: now that Corbynism has been unleashed within the Labour Party, it can only be comprehensively tackled and beaten back through defeat at the ballot box in a general election. Anything else – whether it is forcing Corbyn to resign, shenanigans to set up a shadow “party within a party”, disenfranchising his supporters within the party or changing the rules to thwart him – will be insufficient. It may succeed in removing Corbyn, but Corbynism will live – his supporters will be enraged and his successor will have almost zero scope to change direction without seeing the bottom fall out of the Labour Party at the grassroots level, effectively destroying the party.

By contrast, if Jeremy Corbyn is permitted to unapologetically lead Labour to a landslide defeat in 2020, then the centrists have a much fairer shot at regaining control of the party. Corbynism will be discredited and rejected by the British people, and the opening for an alternative will again exist.

Owen Smith represents the Parliamentary Labour Party’s craven, ill-considered plan to try to circumvent that process. For reasons that this blog has previously explained – primarily impatience to return to power for the sake of their own political careers – a 2020 defeat and potential 2025 victory is simply too long to wait for a bunch of oily careerists who didn’t lead blandly forgettable lives and forego careers in the banking sector only to rot away, as they see it, on the backbenches. And so unwilling to even give Corbynism a chance to fail on its own, the restive PLP has decided to try to reassert their control now.

But it won’t work. No political party can long endure when its elected representatives are so markedly at odds with the grassroots membership, the ordinary people who knock on doors and hand out leaflets to get their MPs elected in the first place. And Owen Smith’s candidacy represents a giant two-finger salute, fifty feet high and covered in glitter, directed at Labour Party members who strongly support Jeremy Corbyn.

There’s a great episode of The West Wing where two of President Bartlet’s aides, Communications Director Toby Ziegler and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, are left behind by the presidential motorcade during an election campaign stop and have to hitchhike their way back to Washington D.C. The two men begin to get on one another’s nerves as the ideological Toby Ziegler demands to know why the politically calculating Josh Lyman isn’t more enthusiastic about the president’s barnstorming stump speech, in which Bartlet aggressively criticises his Republican opponent.

After Toby’s rant,  Josh finally snaps and tells Toby:

“Which is one of the reasons that I work full-time for his opponent. I don’t know what gave you the impression that I had to be convinced, but I want to win. You want to beat him, and that’s a problem for me, because I want to win.”

I’ve always thought that this is an important distinction, one which I try to apply in my own political thinking. Far nobler it is to want to win, to convince others of the rightness of one’s cause, than to want to beat the other side and take enjoyment as they suffer the bitter pangs of defeat.

During the EU referendum, I genuinely wanted the Leave campaign to win more than I wanted to defeat the Remain campaign. Despite immense provocation from the political establishment and many on the Remain side, I was generally motivated more by a desire to secure a better and more democratic future for my country than to make Remainers sad or to wipe the smug smile off George Osborne’s face (though that has certainly been a wonderful bonus).

Not so with this Labour leadership election though. I want Owen Smith to lose. I want him to lose big, and lose hard. I want him to suffer such a humiliating, lopsided, landslide defeat that he bursts into tears on live television and has to run from the conference hall in shame and ignominy. And I want the Parliamentary Labour Party, who cynically used the shocked aftermath of the EU referendum as a pretext to launch an antidemocratic coup against their elected leader and their own members, to behold this gruesome scene and take their lesson from it.

I’m not proud of it, but that’s what this despicable, oleaginous, ideologically rootless C-list politician does to me. The sooner British political life is rid of him, the better.


Owen Smith - Labour Party Leadership Coup

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Let Trump Be Trump? At This Point, The Floundering Donald Trump Campaign Has Nothing Left To Lose

Donald Trump has proven himself incapable of being a serious presidential candidate for more than a few consecutive days. So at this point, behind in the polls, there is really not much to lose by playing to his dubious strengths and pursuing a relentless core vote strategy

There is a pivotal episode of The West Wing (Season 1, Episode 19) in which the entire administration of fictional President Josiah Bartlet appears to be stuck in neutral, under continual fire from the Republican opposition and simultaneously unwilling to seriously tackle the big challenges yet unable to close out the small ones.

The climax of the episode features a showdown between President Bartlet and his loyal chief of staff, Leo McGarry, who tells Bartlet that he and the entire staff serve at the pleasure of the president and would do anything for him, if only he would shake off his caution and timidity, stop second guessing himself and seek to govern more boldly. The assertive new doctrine that they thrash out: “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet”.

Remembering this scene prompted me to remark, in light of Donald Trump’s spectacularly awful campaign:

Many times we feel frustrated with leaders whom we believe in, but who seem to falter at the critical moment or lack the courage of their own convictions. While it was before my time, the tentative early years of Margaret Thatcher’s government spring to mind (the struggles of which are brought vividly to life in Kwasi Kwarteng MP’s excellent book “Thatcher’s Trial”, well worth reading), but there are countless more examples of once promising political candidacies which never got off the ground because the candidate failed to ignite as expected. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are two such conservative examples from this election cycle alone.

Sadly, when it comes to Republican Party’s current presidential nominee, there is no inspiring higher gear to which the candidate can shift – as Donald Trump seems determined to prove over and over again, this is as good as it gets. And this represents a real problem for the Trump campaign and for the Republican Party, which has tied its fortunes and reputation to this must unstable (and profoundly un-conservative) of individuals.

The anti-establishment schtick and unconventional campaign techniques which propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination are not sufficient, it turns out, to sustain a viable presidential campaign. As the National Review’s Jim Geraghty puts it, the conventional campaign rulebook is reasserting itself, and Trump seems frozen, unwilling (but also unable) to adapt.

With just 81 days until election day and new opinion polls showing Hillary Clinton currently having a lock on the electoral college votes she needs to win the White House in November, there isn’t much time for a reset of the Trump campaign. And even if a thorough, genuine reset were to take place it seems unlikely that many of the voters whom Trump has insulted or terrified on his way to the Republican nomination can be persuaded to put their concerns aside and vote for Donald.

Worse still for Trump’s prospects in November, all past attempts to reset the campaign have failed.

So what to do? It is becoming increasingly clear that trying to get Donald Trump to act like a serious, knowledgeable presidential candidate isn’t working – Trump either resentfully ignores the advice he is given, or old habits quickly reassert themselves despite anyone’s best intentions. The “somebody please stop Trump being Trump” mantra is not working. So could the solution be to do exactly the opposite – to Let Trump Be Trump?

New York Magazine’s Frank Rich thinks so:

Those dreary Trump “presidential” speeches — the “policy” addresses he has lately been reading listlessly from teleprompters — have bought him nothing. Trump is indeed beyond coaching, and, with Manafort sidelined, Trump is free to be Trump full-time again. Bannon and Ailes are both pugilists likely to pump his volume back up to the full Mussolini-Giuliani timbre. It may not make a difference come November, but I’d argue it’s the only way for Trump to go.

As we’ve learned over the past year, Trump’s supporters don’t care about the journalistic investigations debunking his career and ethics, or about his complete disregard for facts, or about his chilling, unworkable, and destructive prescriptions to “make America great again.” When he said that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and still hold on to his hard-core base, he had a point. So he might just as well be as outrageous and noisy as he possibly can. Reaching every conceivable aggrieved white American out there, particularly the “poorly educated” whom he admires and particularly those who might not be regular voters, is his best hope, however faint, for achieving a putsch. (Particularly if some October surprise upends his opponent.) The time for Trump to woo, say, undecided suburban voters by attempting (incompetently) to mimic lunchtime speakers at the Council on Foreign Relations is over.

In fact, there are already some signs that this is exactly what the Donald Trump campaign now intends to do. Rather than show any evidence of outreach to wavering undecided American voters, Trump has continued playing to the gallery of his true believers with his unprecedented and intemperate attacks on Hillary Clinton. Rather than appearing with Republican politicians who are respected on a bipartisan basis, Trump continues to cement his public image by appearing with partisan carnival barkers like Rudy Giuliani, now a small, aged and perpetually frightened shadow of his former self.

This was cemented by yesterday’s announcement that the Trump campaign will hire Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon as new campaign chief executive – elevating somebody from the loud and unapologetic conservative media with no experience in political campaigns.

From the Washington Post:

Donald Trump, following weeks of gnawing agitation over his advisers’ attempts to temper his style, moved late Tuesday to overhaul his struggling campaign by rebuffing those efforts and elevating two longtime associates who have encouraged his combative populism.

Stephen Bannon, a former banker who runs the influential conservative outlet Breitbart News and is known for his fiercely anti-establishment politics, has been named the Trump campaign’s chief executive. Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican pollster who has been close to Trump for years, will assume the role of campaign manager.

[..] Trump’s stunning decision effectively ended the months-long push by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump’s presentation and pitch for the general election. And it sent a signal, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the real estate magnate intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side.

Dreher thinks we have entered the world of farce:

Frankly, I think American politics crossed over into The Onion territory some time ago now – this latest news is barely a ripple in the sea of absurdity. But from a strategic perspective, in which a political campaign has to make its best shot with the resources available to it, what else is the Trump campaign to do?

I recently described the Trump campaign’s problem like this:

It’s not that Trump chooses not to surprise everyone and confound expectations by playing the policy wonk and actually taking the time to read up on issues before running his mouth off on live television – it’s that he is physically incapable of being a mature, intellectually curious potential leader, even if he wanted to be. And even when despairing aides hold their make-or-break “interventions” in an attempt to set him on the straight and narrow, Trump simply smiles and nods, and two days later he is back off the Teleprompter again, picking another unwinnable fight or pursuing one of his many personal vendettas.

So more of the same then, from now until November. The Republicans had better hope that there is an entire army of low-information, first time voters willing to put on pants and leave the couch for the first time in 30 years to vote for their man, because otherwise Hillary Clinton will be taking the oath of office on January 20th.

This really is Trump’s only shot at winning. Generally I refrain from making any comparisons between the Donald Trump phenomenon and Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union – mostly because Brexit and the campaign to reclaim nation state democracy is something pure and noble, while authoritarian Trumpism is the antithesis of those high ideals. But it must be noted that the EU referendum campaign here in Britain revealed a sleeping army of people who had in some cases not voted for multiple decades, but who were spurred to action by the gravity of the decision being put to them in the form of Brexit.

Donald Trump needs to hope and pray that there is a similar sleeping army of typical non-voters – made up of the economically left behind, the alienated white working classes or whatever other label one wishes to ascribe – lying dormant in America, ready to spring to life and to the polling booth at his campaign’s command.

And those of us who abhor Donald Trump and his nasty, un-conservative brand of grievance-based authoritarianism need to hope and pray that there is no such army, or at least that Trump fails to find their collective “on” switch before November 8th.

But from Donald Trump’s perspective, there is nothing to lose. The New York demagogue has no precious poll lead to squander and no reputation to protect; he is congenitally unable to portray even the facsimile of a humble, temperate, intellectually curious and ideologically rooted leader. Trump’s only chance of victory – short of Hillary Clinton’s campaign detonating over one of the many scandals which stalk the Democratic Party nominee, or some big extraneous shock like a major terror attack on American soil – is to double down with the strategy which brought him thus far, and to surround himself (as he is now doing) with campaign staff who are willing to go with the flow rather than work against the grain of his personality.

In short, the Republican Party’s last, best hope of winning the White House is to stop fighting electoral gravity and simply let Trump be Trump.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to trust that what worked so well for President Jed Bartlet in The West Wing does not work miracles for Donald Trump.


Donald Trump Hosts Nevada Caucus Night Watch Party In Las Vegas

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This Weak Conservative Government Refuses To Get Tough With The Unions

Southern Rail Isnt Working

When even staunch New Labour grandee and columnist John McTernan thinks the Tories are behaving like a weaker version of the Labour Party, British conservatism is in real trouble

As the RMT union’s strike on Southern Rail enters its third consecutive day, inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of commuters while a dithering Tory-lite government watches on, wringing its hands, former New Labour political adviser John McTernan uses his Telegraph column to tear into the Conservative Party.

McTernan writes:

We are in the middle of a five-day rail strike on Southern Rail. Commuters are being massively disrupted. And this is just the latest stage in a dispute in which the Luddite RMT union has made it clear that it is fully committed to fighting against the future.

What about the Government? Where are they in this dispute. It is a crystallisation if all their key themes: investment, modernisation, innovation and productivity. But they are silent.

Well not quite. What we have actually seen is the resignation of the then rail minister Claire Perry, who said:  “I am often ashamed to be the Rail Minister.” And so she should have been – just for her pathetic capitulation to the RMT. This, of course, is just what you would have expected from a Miliband government; but this is a Tory government, with a majority.

There is a famous scene in The West Wing episode about President Bartlet appointing a member of the Supreme Court. He meets Justice Joseph Crouch, whose retirement creates the vacancy, and is angrily addressed by Crouch: “I wanted to retire five years ago. Five years. But I waited for a Democrat. Instead I got you.” The Southern Rail dispute is just like that. Commuters in the Home Counties could be forgiven for thinking: “I waited 23 years for a majority Tory government. Instead I got you.” Where are the core Tory values? Where is the support for management’s right to manage?

This is utterly stunning criticism – shocking not only because it is self-evidently true (the Conservatives in government are a shadow of their glorious best under Margaret Thatcher) but because they are now so bad at governing in a conservative fashion that it has fallen to a former New Labour apparatchik to set them straight.

Why on earth has it fallen to a Labour Party grandee to inveigh against the more militant trades union? Where is the useless europhile Greg Clark, supposedly Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy during this whole dispute? Where is Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary? Have they all taken lessons from their new boss in the art of disappearing and avoiding the media during scandals affecting their ministerial briefs?

This criticism is particularly damning:

Where are the core Tory values? Where is the support for management’s right to manage?

Where indeed. This blog has wondered the same thing, as the Tories in government behaved like centralising statists, presided over an unprecedented weakening of our national defence, dithered over the housing crisisfailed to get to grips with the nation’s finances, alienated principled conservatives, and as the leader of a supposedly eurosceptic party did all he could to cheat his way to victory for the Remain camp in the EU referendum. Where are the core Tory values?

A Thatcherite government would have stood boldly on the side of consumers over producers, and thus would have been unafraid to plant its flag squarely in the same corner as Southern Rail’s unfortunate commuters. And unlike the Cameron approach to industrial disputes (seemingly applying maximum pressure on businesses to capitulate to union demands, as seen with the London Tube strikes) a Thatcherite government would have recognised the offensive absurdity of the union demands and unashamedly sided against them.

Needless to say, we do not have a Thatcherite government – despite all of the ingredients being in place for another properly ideological right wing government to flourish. The left-wing opposition is hopelessly divided. The Conservatives are under new leadership for the first time in a decade. Boundary review looks set to help the Tories by correcting decades-old biases in favour of Labour, potentially gifting the Tories tens of additional seats. All of these factors stand ready and waiting to be exploited by a radical Conservative government which understands that it has a duty to do more than hold power for the sake of it.

And yet at every turn, the Tories triangulate and tack to the centre. They did so under coalition government (when they had a modicum of an excuse) and they continue to do so now, when they have none. Right now, there is effectively no opposition. A conservative government right now could make a fair stab at privatising pensions and the NHS, and still not be forced out of office so long as the Corbynite and centrist wings of the Labour Party continue their childish tussle for power. The political landscape is ripe for a radical conservative reduction and reshaping of the state, yet there is almost zero evidence that Theresa May’s government intends to attempt any such bold enterprise.

And for what? Will being a centrist clone of New Labour win the Tories any new fans? Of course not. The swivel-eyed Left have long ago convinced themselves that all Tories are “evil” and “vermin”, no matter what they actually do in government.

We shall win no new fans by trying to adopt the cuddly persona of a young Tony Blair. We will never be liked. Therefore we should focus on being effective, without giving a second thought to winning over the admiration and votes of people who have been raised since birth to despise us. That’s what Margaret Thatcher taught us. And that is the lesson which we seem determined to cast aside in our feverish pursuit of the focus group’s favour.

John McTernan’s quote from The West Wing is very apt. Many conservatives have indeed been waiting for years – since Margaret Thatcher was forced from office, in fact – for another strong Tory leader; somebody committed to conservative, small government principles and willing to fight for them.

Conservatives waited thirteen long years of New Labour government only to get David Cameron. We then endured six years of Cameronism before being presented with the authoritarian Theresa May, foisted on the party in the confused wake of the EU referendum. And whatever electoral success Theresa May enjoys, she may well end up being every bit as much of an ideological disappointment as her predecessor.

But maybe this criticism is premature. Maybe the autumn Conservative Party conference will give birth to a conservative policy platform actually worth voting for. And to be fair to the new prime minister, even Margaret Thatcher bottled her first confrontation with the National Union of Mineworkers, staging a tactical retreat before coming back to finish the job in 1984-85.

But right now, British conservatives are in the ludicrous and humiliating position of being upbraided by a Labour Party grandee – someone from the party of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, for heaven’s sake – for being insufficiently dedicated to conservative principles.

And when it falls to Tony Blair’s right hand man to tell the Tories how to get tough with the unions, something is clearly rotten with the state of British conservatism.


David Cameron - Coke Zero Conservative - I Cant Believe Its Not Miliband

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Bartlet For America

Your daily dose of nostalgia:

TV’s favorite White House Press Secretary was back at the White House podium Friday when Allison Janney made a surprise appearance.

Janney, who starred as C.J. Cregg for seven seasons on The West Wing, shocked the press core when she walked into the Press Briefing Room instead of current Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Janney said that Earnest was having a root canal, a callback to an episode in the first season of The West Wing, in which C.J. had a root canal that led to a disastrous press conference conducted by Josh (Bradley Whitford).

Earnest did show up to reveal that the Mom star was there to discuss the opioid epidemic and to support those who help people dealing with substance abuse. Janney, whose character on Mom is a recovering addict, honored the White House Champions of Change, a group of individuals who are recognized for their work with substance abuse issues.

Janney did take one question when a reporter asked who President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) was supporting for the Democratic nomination. In typical C.J. fashion she replied, “I think you know the answer to that question.”

I’m actually not sure that we do know the answer to that question.

In fact, I think that Jed Bartlet’s take on the current field (on both the Democratic and Republican sides) would be more like his future chief of staff Leo McGarry’s attitude was when trying to persuade a reluctant Bartlet to run:

Leo McGarry: Because I’m tired of it – year after year after year after year having to choose between the lesser of who cares. Of trying to get myself excited about a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. Of setting the bar so low, I can hardly bear to look at it. They say a good man can’t get elected President. I don’t believe that. Do you?

Jed Bartlet: And you think I’m that man?

Leo: Yes!

Bartlet: Doesn’t it matter that I’m not as sure?

Leo McGarry: Nah. “Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you.” Put another way: Fake it ’til you make it!


“Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless”

Bartlet for America - The West Wing - 2

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